Every Sunday, we update the Nets' off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, analysis, etc. to help take the edge off not winning the NBA championship. We rely on our own reports as well as what the Nets’ beat reporters and others have slipped into larger stories, blogs and tweets...
As the draft and free agency get closer, expect more rumors. We add one. We also take a look at how Bojan Bogdanovic is hitting his stride when his team --and the Nets-- need him to; talk about how the Nets can use small guarantees to compete in luring free agents to summer league and training camp; report on Brook Lopez's mental attitude, pass on what we heard about the practice facility and offer our take on a change at the top.
Marcus Thornton as trade asset
We're hearing increasingly that Marcus Thornton is on the block. Nothing official but then, it's not a surprise either. Thornton didn't play poorly last season, although like several of his teammates, he didn't perform well in the playoffs, the first of his career.. Like Mirza Teletovic and Shaun Livingston, Thornton's time in Brooklyn let him resurrect his career. He averaged 12.3 points on 41.4 percent shooting overall, 38 percent from deep and 80 percent at the line. He didn't pass much, but his defense was better than expected.
The Nets, we're told, want to see what they can get for his expiring contract, which at $8.6 million is the sixth biggest on the team. In the right situation, he can heat up an offense quickly. Six times, he came off the bench for the Nets and scored 20 or more points ... out of 26 games. With Sacramento earlier in the season, he had a 42 point game.
What would the Nets want? Perhaps a big man to replace Andray Blatche, who seems destined to depart. One thing we are told is that the Nets would like to find a replacement who makes less money.
Lopez upbeat about his health
We hear Brook Lopez, ever the optimist, is upbeat about returning to the court in two weeks. He will work out with the summer league team starting, as planned, on July 1. It will be his first basketball-related activity since he broke his foot vs. Philadelphia at the end of December.
The summer league schedule actually doesn't leave much time to work out. After the draft, the Nets will assemble the final pieces of the roster and get them to Florida pronto. They and Lopez will work out in Orlando for a few days before they play games on six straight days, leaving little time for anything other than shootarounds.
If he returns healthy, he will be the Nets biggest off-season acquisition. As Billy King has said, everyone talks about how the Bulls would have been so much better with their best player, Derrick Rose, but no one talks about how the Nets missed their best player last year as well.
Bogdanovic value on the rise
We stopped covering Bojan Bogdanovic's every move a few weeks back when it became increasingly clear he wasn't interested in the Nets next season. We had covered every game he played in for three years. Enough. But as the draft and free agency get closer, we figured we'd take another look.
Bogdanovic, as we reported with the help of Savas Birdal in Istanbul, has been playing well of late. He has a reputation of playing well in big games, of wanting to take the big shot and now with the Turkish League championship on the line, he's doing it again.
On Friday, he led Fenerbahce to a 76-63 win over arch-rival Galatasary. In 31 minutes, the 6'8" swingman scored 14 points on 10 shots, making six of them. He was high scorer as Fener took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven TBL title series. After a lackluster couple of months in the Euroleague and Turkish League preliminaries, he's played again like a top prospect, and the reality is that he is a top European prospect. Lately, he's been playing sort of point forward, initiating pick-and-rolls for Zeljko Obradovic, his coach and biggest fan. An athletic 6'8" point forward with long arms and big hands who loves big shots is not a bad asset ... despite the mutual frustration he and the Nets have had in getting him here.
The Nets seemingly can't afford him, with the mini-MLE earmarked for Shaun Livingston. Even if Livingston leaves, it's no sure thing, at all, that the Nets would offer the $3.3 million to the Bosnian-born Croatian. There very well could be others who would better fit the Nets plans. So the likelihood is that he gets dealt, perhaps on Draft Night. The question is this: if he is going to stay in Europe for another one or two years, how valuable are his rights? Only the market knows. We'll find out. A big player no doubt in the next few weeks will be Arn Tellem, his new American agent. Agents can and do seek trades of players they rep.
As for Ilkan Karaman, the Nets other Euro-Stash on the Fener roster, he missed the whole season. He had double knee surgery last August and was supposed to rejoin the team in mid-season. His rehab took longer and so he sat and sat. No word if, as planned, he will play for Turkey in the FIBA World Championships starting in August.
A little guarantee to tide you over
As the Nets look forward to the Draft and Summer League, they'll be shuffling through scouting reports and accompanying videos (both highlights and lowlights) to see who might be available at midnight on June 26 ... after the 60th and final pick is called at Barclays, the so-called "third round" of the draft when teams scramble for players still recovering from not being drafted. They've already begun inviting free agents to Orlando for summer league.
Once the summer league is done, there will be other decisions, like who to invite to training camp. NBA teams can invite up to 20 players to camp (although the Nets usually don't go higher than 18 or 19). If the Nets wind up in a competition with other teams, they can offer small guarantees to the players and may just do so, according a team insider.
Jorge Gutierrez, in fact, reportedly has a partial guarantee for the coming season but its size hasn't been disclosed. The biggest partial guarantee in Prokhorov era: $100,000, was given Sean May in 2010 but he was injured and cut before camp. He kept the guarantee. So don't expect the guarantee to be that big. It can go south. That same summer, the Nets gave undrafted rookies Brian Zoubek $50,000 and Ben Uzoh $35,000. Uzoh made the team. Zoubek's back issues forced him to leave the game and become a pastry chef..
The team insider said some of the money could come from what was saved from abandoning the D-League hybrid model, about $300,000 to $500,000.. It can be also be plowed back into the coaching staff, as well as the medical, video, scouting departments,, said one insider.
And no, we haven't heard if any others have been invited to summer league beyond Nick Minnerath, the heavily tattooed 6'9" small forward from Detroit Mercy; Michael Jenkins, a 6'4" European journeyman who makes his living off his three point shot, and Adonis Thomas, the 6'7" 21-year-old who played so well with Springfield.
The spectacular awaits
No official word yet on when we'll see renderings of the Nets new practice facility, which as we've reported, will be built on the top two floors of Building 19 in the Industry City complex between New York Bay and Second Avenue ins the Sunset Park section ... 148 39th Street to be specific.
What we are hearing is that the project, the brainchild of Irina Pavlova and consultant David Carlock, will be spectacular in its look. No doubt, the project is a design challenge. While sitting atop a nine-story building on the Brooklyn waterfront can offer great views of Brooklyn, Manhattan and New York Bay, the building is 100 years old. So somehow, the Nets facility will have to be grafted on to the top of the building. We're told, the result offers a lot of pleasant design surprises.
Judging by other similar facilities around the NBA, the practice facility will offer two full-size courts, weight room, players lounge, office and conference room space. Billy King, Bobby Marks, Frank Zanin and Jason Kidd will have their offices there. One advantage of building in Industry City is that the buildings were constructed with massive floors and walls, capable of handling heavy loads, like Jeremy Bettle's chamber of workout horrors. It will be final break with the team's New Jersey heritage.
As we've reported, the roof of the building will be raised 15 or 20 feet to accommodate the courts. And if everything goes well, it should all be finished a year from October. The Nets lease at PNY Center, which opened as the Champion Center in the late 90's, is running out. John Calipari's final legacy, the East Rutherford gym has seen better days since it was converted from a trucking warehouse. It was hit hard during Superstorm Sandy and needed a lot of temporary repairs.
What will the new practice facility be called? No official word there either, but if the Nets follow other teams' lead, expect the naming rights will be held by a health care company, perhaps an insurance carrier or a hospital/clinic. The most recently added NBA practice facilities are all sponsored by big health care companies: the Cleveland Clinics Courts in Independence, Ohio, where the Cavs practice; the Mayo Clinic Square in downtown Minneapolis, home of the Timberwolves; and most recently the Advocate Center, named for Advocate Health Care, in Chicago. (Following closely on the Nets will be the 76ers, who are going to build a new training facility in Camden, right on the Delaware. It's all part of a practice facility "arms race.")
The owners of Industry City want the Nets as an anchor for their planned Brooklyn version of Chelsea Market and the Meatpacking District. In a recent video produced by Crain's New York, executives of Industry City talked about how they want the giant facility on the Brooklyn waterfront to be a creative center for "Brooklyn's famously cool residents."
Andrew Kimball, who developed Chelsea Market and now runs Industry City, spoke about the master plan for the complex. Without mentioning the Nets, Kimball told a Crains reporter that it's about creativity. "What you find with these creative sectors is that they really want to be near each other, so the artist wants to be next to the furniture maker, who wants to be next to the tech company. who wants to be next to the fashion designer" ... who apparently wants to be next to Billy King.
And if you stop in at the Costco on Second Avenue in Brooklyn and see Building 19, catty-corner to the left of the parking lot, don't get upset at how rundown the neighborhood looks. Jamestown Properties is investing $100 million now in the property and expects to invest a lot more. Nets are getting in on the ground floor by moving into the ninth floor.
The elevation of Dmitry Razumov ot the post of chairman was no surprise. He's been a huge player in the Nets front office ever since Mikhail Prokhorov bought the team. When Prokhorov first came to the US for the Draft Lottery and a press conference in May 2010, Razumov was at his side when the new owner met with David Stern and Jay-Z, sat nearby when the Nets lost the first pick in the Draft, gave part of the presentation to LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dywane Wade. He and Prokhorov later cut short a skiing vacation in British Columbia to greet Deron Williams after that trade. He's the guy in ownership who everyone on the team knows. He is in Brooklyn for a dozen or so games a year and on Draft Night, he will be in the War Room with Billy, armed with a cell phone and a checkbook. He is absolutely crucial to the Nets operation, a strong advocate in Moscow.
Leaving the chairman's job --and a senior position with ONEXIM in Moscow-- is Chris Charlier, who is an avid reader of NetsDaily. When we changed designs two years back, Charlier approached us at Nets Media Day with his (withering) criticisms. Charlier, a Frenchman with a couple of degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, was responsible for the business side of things just as Razumov was on the basketball side. When Prokhorov first entertained the idea of buying the team, he put Charlier in charge of the project. After the purchase, he got the team's finances in order, made sure it had what it needed to move ahead, even hosted front office meetings at his chalet in France! He was committed to the team's success. We are told he will remain on the Nets board, so that's a good thing and a good reason for him to read us.